From the archives: Business as usual

March 22, 2016

by Maija Anderson, OHSU Historical Collections and Archives


The dedication and seamless teamwork of emergency care is perfectly captured in this archival photograph, which most likely dates to the 1980s. The blurred figures and their intent expressions evoke the ever-changing yet highly focused nature of their work.

Emergency medicine was relatively late in becoming a recognized medical specialty. After World War II, social changes meant that patients were less likely to see their family doctor for emergency care, and more likely to be directed to a hospital's emergency room. Demand for such care was growing rapidly, and the need for trained personnel more critical. The accepted practice of staffing the ER with rotating on-call residents and physicians from across the hospital was becoming unsustainable. In 1961, four colleagues in Alexandria, Va. established the first full-time emergency practice. The American College of Emergency Physicians was founded in 1968, and in 1970 the University of Cincinnati created the first residency program. OHSU established its Division of Emergency Medicine in 1977, and welcomed its first residents soon after. The American Board of Medical Specialties finally recognized Emergency Medicine in 1979.

Emergency Medicine was established as a department in 1991, under Chair John Moorhead, M.D., M.S. Dr. Moorhead had helped build Emergency Medicine since its early days as a division with a handful of residents. In a 2003 essay he noted, "Vibrant activity and a tremendous feeling of camaraderie, teamwork, and mutual support…aided in the success of our programs and in attracting outstanding, faulty, residents and students." 

This year, the Department of Emergency Medicine is celebrating its 25th anniversary. An anniversary video featuring department faculty and chairs shows that the qualities Dr. Moorhead identified are still making it an outstanding place.

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